This interview was originally in Maximum Rock N Roll #100. This would have been reprinted in issue #2 of Not Normal Fanzine
Interview May 10, 1991. Present were Nick (Guitar), Keith (guitar), Charles (vocals), seminal guitarist Jon Hiltz, and Wardance label magnate Fred Alva. Interview by Sam Mcpheeters.
MRR: There seems to be a big discrepancy between the earlier material you all recorded for several comps-Evacuate’s Look At All The Children Now, and Irate’s Forever 7”-and the sound that you got on the album. It sounds like two different bands…
Charles: The person we recorded the earliest stuff with, Don Fury in New York, has a real reputation for being hit or miss… either you sound real good or you totally suck. There’s no middle ground in the way he records. And we got the miss… plus those three songs were the first things we had ever recorded in a studio, uh, and they suck. We publicly acknowledge that.
Keith: We really didn’t know what we were doing, it was very forced.
MRR: Charles, I’ve heard rumors that you recorded the entire album line by line, having each verse punched in by the engineer. What was the story with that?
Charles: Not the whole thing, a lot of it. I had… a problem with a damaged lung. So I was very easily winded. There were a few parts where I sang a lot, but there were no songs I sang straight through. Because after about three lines I was unable to breath. It was a matter of timing and great engineering by Alan, the guy in whose basement we recorded. It was a dark but pivotal time Rorschach history.
MRR: How did your being sick affect the workings of the band?
Charles: Well, I got cancer and it slowed us down for a while. We had a lot of help from people… there were a couple of shows where I couldn’t sing the whole thing. A lot of practices I missed.
Jon: And then there was the Sk8 Hut…
Charles: Where I sang about a song and a half and couldn’t breathe for the rest of the day.
Nick: We didn’t realize how much his voice was in trouble until he got better.
Keith:Yeah, when we first started, it was entirely different. And when we started to… change, is when he got sick. Now, on the new 7”, it’s insane how different he sounds. And it sounds incredible when compared to those horrible compilation tracks.
Charles: Part of my treatment involved taking a drug which damaged one of my lungs. It went from like, 98% health to 73% healthy in two weeks. And those two weeks were the two weeks… it happened in the end of June, and we started recording in the beginning of July. So, my lung eventually regenerated, but at the time we recorded the album it was almost at its worst.
MRR; Another discrepancy I’ve noticed about the band is that… it seems like your illness has had a major influence on Rorschach’s lyrics, but in talking to you in person about having cancer, you seem pretty casual when discussing it…
Charles: Lyrically, it totally gave me a different outlook on life. I guess… it wasn’t all bad. It may have seemed that way, but it changed my outlook on everyday life pretty drastically. I mean, when I first found out that I had cancer, it was like a big punch in the face. But… then I realized that every day as I was closer and closer to getting better, I realized that I was nowhere near as bad off as some people. Now I’m better, I’m healthy again, and there is still lots of people much sicker than I was… but, as far as lyrics go, I can’t really say that our first sets of lyrics were any Shakespeare anyway…
MRR: Who writes the music?
MRR: You’re into a lot of weirder, progressive metal: sounds like an influence, but the music itself seems more deviant, kind of along the lines of COC or something…
Keith: “Progressive metal?” Sorry, sounds like you’re talking about crap like Primus.
Jon: Rush is “progressive.”
Keith: I don’t know, since I was 14, since I got into Metallica and Slayer, I always just liked the stuff that was more extreme and it just got to the point where I was listening to a lot of Voivoid, Treponem Pal, now Godflesh…so I like a lot of off time changes, I mean it’s a lot more evident on the newer 7” and the newer material. I don’t like stuff straightforward and clear cut, I like it to be more bizarre, more… I don’t want to say technical. Maybe just… dissonant.
MRR: Where do you all see yourselves in relation to the ABC No Rio scene?
Charles: As long as it exists, we’ll keep playing there.
MRR: Well, how does the tag of being an “ABC band” fit?
Nick: Just because we’ve played there five times…
Charles: It depends on your definition of an ABC band
Nick: Any band that lives in the tri state area that wants to play shows is an ABC band
MRR: As of this interview, about a month before you leave on tour, there have been a bunch of club closings in the New York area. L’amours in Brooklyn, Maxwells in Hoboken is being converted into a Bennigans… do you think New York is going to see further polarization of the punk community with an even more pronounced split between ABC’s and the huge shows at The Ritz and The Marquee? Seems like there’s a much smaller potential for middle ground shows, like at the Castillo Cultural Center near Wall Street, or at Maxwells, or…
Charles: Or the Anthrax. They closed down a while ago. It’s gonna suck, but it just comes down to… if somebody wants to whoever it is that’s going to get things going again. If the hardcore scene is demanding of that then it’ll happen. I don’t know why it hasn’t happened yet, but someone will start putting on shows in Connecticut again.
Keith: The Anthrax is opening in another space.
Charles: The demand for a place to play like that in Connecticut is so great that it’s inevitable that something’s gonna open up. The demand for an alternative club like Maxwells is also inevitable. There was money being made at Maxwells and somebody’s gonna want to make money.
Keith: In Connecticut there’s a place called The Monkey Bar that’s starting to put on shows and I was talking to either Steve or Tim from No Escape who said that it looks like The World’s gonna start having shit again… $5 matinees. They want the CBGB crowd because they know money can be made.
Charles: Exactly. Someone’s out there, someone, who owns a club is going to want to make that money. But as far as we’re concerned… we’ll have ABC to play, whether there’s a middle ground or not.
MRR: Talk about Mindset some… that used to the collective fanzine of the three of you, and now it seems like it’s just Charles’ project…
Keith: No, no, no! Big misconception! I never had anything to do with it!
Charles: In spirit, Keith was a part of Mindset. The original idea was a lazy person’s fanzine. Just have everybody else do a page and then we combine it. And that turned out to be the most accurate description: everyone was too lazy to do a page in the first place, with the exception of a handful of consistent people. So we’ve turned into a much more regular type fanzine. There’re actually interviews in the next one.
MRR: Charles you went to high school with the guys from Trixter; having been present to witness their huge commercial success, what kind of perspective does that put on your own band?
Charles: Uh, well, it’s very obvious that they’ve “made it big,” in their terms, but it impressed me when I was in high school with these people, that was all they wanted to do. Make it big, play the Byrne arena…it impressed me that they had actually accomplished what they set out to do. At the same time I wasn’t very impressed in the way it was packaged… very, um, businesslike atmosphere when it comes to record corporation stuff like that.
Nick: Well, they’re Trixter (laughs)
Charles: Yeah, exactly. The marketing schemes are there; promo comic books, photo shoots, stuff like that. I’m not really good friends with any of the band members except the keyboardist. I’m kinda friends with the guitarist, Steve. Liad, they keyboard player, is a really good friend of mine and he doesn’t get shown on stage or in their videos because… well, it’s all in the next Mindset. He explains it as… it doesn’t matter to him that he’s not on stage because since he was nine he’s wanted to play music. And now he’s doing it, so it doesn’t matter that he’s not getting recognized. But I don’t really know what talking about Trixter has to do with us in the first place…
MRR: Well, it does in that Rorschach will always have that kind of potential to “make it big” as a metal band, no matter how much uglier your music is than Trixter’s. Five years ago, who in their right mind would’ve thought that Napalm Death coule become such a successful marketing tool?
Charles: Well, having seen what it’s like at the top doesn’t make me want to be there. A couple of weeks ago I went to see them at the Meadowlands Arena and when I went to talk to Steve Brown backstage after the show, it was like… he was posing for pictures while I was talking to him. No one would leave him alone. Everything was very structured. But the reason I went in the first place is that, fuck, “know your enemy” is a motto I live by. I got to see exactly what I wanted to see. It was disgusting, all the “stars” were there: the guys from Tesla, all that shit. Everybody was kissing each other’s ass. Hopefully we’ll never want any part of that.
Fred: Hey, is that Rebound flexi coming out anytime soon?
Charles: Uh, well talk about that some other time…